Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 35 (NeurIPS 2022) Main Conference Track
Sudipta Paul, Amit Roy-Chowdhury, Anoop Cherian
Recent years have seen embodied visual navigation advance in two distinct directions: (i) in equipping the AI agent to follow natural language instructions, and (ii) in making the navigable world multimodal, e.g., audio-visual navigation. However, the real world is not only multimodal, but also often complex, and thus in spite of these advances, agents still need to understand the uncertainty in their actions and seek instructions to navigate. To this end, we present AVLEN -- an interactive agent for Audio-Visual-Language Embodied Navigation. Similar to audio-visual navigation tasks, the goal of our embodied agent is to localize an audio event via navigating the 3D visual world; however, the agent may also seek help from a human (oracle), where the assistance is provided in free-form natural language. To realize these abilities, AVLEN uses a multimodal hierarchical reinforcement learning backbone that learns: (a) high-level policies to choose either audio-cues for navigation or to query the oracle, and (b) lower-level policies to select navigation actions based on its audio-visual and language inputs. The policies are trained via rewarding for the success on the navigation task while minimizing the number of queries to the oracle. To empirically evaluate AVLEN, we present experiments on the SoundSpaces framework for semantic audio-visual navigation tasks. Our results show that equipping the agent to ask for help leads to a clear improvement in performances, especially in challenging cases, e.g., when the sound is unheard during training or in the presence of distractor sounds.